You can blame global warming for all I care, but whatever the cause, summertime means warm temperatures. As the mercury heads north, concealing your firearm becomes more difficult. However, the threat is just as high or higher than it has ever been, and leaving my firearm at home is an option I refuse to consider. So, I began looking for warm weather solutions. If you are of the same mind, here are a few tips, tricks, and alternative ways to carry a firearm without telegraphing or sacrificing your safety.
Stay dry with breathable clothing. Stretchy fabrics with wicking properties are the ticket! They are much cooler than you might imagine, and most importantly, keep moisture away from the body. You’ll stay dry and have a barrier between your skin and holster or firearm.
Chafing dovetails quite closely with staying dry to be honest. Chafing is a serious downer for a couple of reasons. First off, the less comfortable you feel when carrying, the less likely you are to carry. Secondly, the less comfortable your carry, the more you are going to fidget. This gives away a serious tactical advantage. An undershirt and holster with an “ear” that rises above the gun will help considerably. Another seasoned tip is to use a touch of baby powder or Gold Bond, or any of the roll-ons that are popular with athletes such as Glide for a more comfortable ride.
I believe it is safe to say, the majority of us carrying use either an outside the waistband (OWB) or inside the waistband (IWB) holster. With longer, thicker garments, this prevents printing and properly conceals your firearm. However, when shedding layers—and perhaps carrying a few extra pounds from the winter months—this is not as solid an option. When the weather is mild, below 80 or so degrees, a t-shirt and cover garment will allow you to easily carry with your IWB and likely your OWB holster. The key is having a garment that moves with you, not independently. For example, a slight breeze blows the shirt open and reveals your sidearm.
One of my favorite off body carry bags features a NIJ Rating 3A ballistic panel capable of stopping up to a .44 Magnum. This not only allows you to continue carrying a firearm, it offers a degree of protection. The panel fits discreetly in the backpack and meets all Federal requirement to carry through an airport or on a plane.
Belly Band Holsters
Belly Band holsters work better than they look. I used to do a fair amount of personal protection work at high profile events in a tuxedo that did not afford the best concealment. I often wore a belly band holster with my back-up gun. Given the way I was dressed, it was not as easily accessible as I would have liked, but it was secure and well concealed, which were primary concerns. However, when simply wearing a t-shirt and shorts, belly band holsters are a viable option and allow quick access—they are also about half or less of the price of holsters.
Ankle holsters are another popular method of carry for warm weather. Of course, you can’t be dressed in shorts, but a pair of jeans and a tight-fitting t-shirt will work just fine. Personally, I have never been a fan. Then again, I have never really spent enough time wearing an ankle holster to give much insight. Perhaps some of the readers of this article will chime in with a comment and personal experience and recommendations.
Ladies, Ladies, Ladies
Women have options that (most) men do not. I have a lot less experience wearing a bra or dress than an ankle holster, so I cannot speak to the effectiveness, but thigh holsters and bra type holsters such as the Flash Bang come to mind. Both have application and are worth looking into when your wardrobe dictates.
Off-body carry is one of my favorite options, and one I employ often. I have several Diversion Packs from Blackhawk, leather satchels, laptop cases, and other bags that allow me to carry covertly without having the firearm under a garment. The downside is speed. In the case of a personal confrontation where you are forced to immediately draw and shoot, you are at a disadvantage. Sweeping away a cover garment and immediately presenting a weapon from a waistband holster is faster. However, when walking through the oceanfront sand wearing shorts without a shirt, a backpack is not out of place, but offer a degree of protection.
There are other options such as groin carry, shoulder rigs, pocket holsters, and purses designed for concealed carry. Get creative and don’t be afraid to try a few different solutions. Not all methods of carry will work for every person or situation. I like options that allow me the maximum amount of flexibility based on my situation and required dress and you should too.